Saturday, January 7th, 2006
By Richard N. Ostling -- Winnipeg Free Press
[COMMENT: Well, it is beginning to happen. People are telling it out abroad that Western Civ. is really Judeo-Christian Civ. And for the reasons given below, and more besides. We have allowed ourselves to be sold rubbish for history, philosophy, and theology. But people are awakening to the scam. Deo gratia!
The defining characteristics of Western Civilization are the
rise of science and the development of due process in civil law. Both of
those could happen only in a Biblical culture. E. Fox]
IT'S one of history's most important questions: Why did Europe and North America embrace democracy and thrive economically while countries elsewhere suffered oppression and stagnation?
[CAVEAT: The US of A is not a democracy. That is a terrible mistake. We are a constitutional democratic republic under God. So-called liberal democracy is, in the end, neither liberal nor democratic. It is totalitarian (socialist, etc.). Without God, civil government will always drift toward centralization, not freedom. E. Fox]
Leading U.S. sociologist Rodney Stark says many scholars purposely overlook the obvious answer: It was the spread of Christianity that made possible political and economic freedoms, modern science and resulting western advancement.
Such is the Baylor University professor's contention in The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism and Western Success (Random House), one of the more provocative of recent books, whose vigorous prose reflects the author's one-time employment as a newspaper reporter.
Though western intellectuals play down theology, Stark sees Christian beliefs as the key.
Which beliefs? He thinks the basis for the West's rise was "an extraordinary faith in reason" resulting from Christianity, which "alone embraced reason and logic as the primary guide to religious truth."
[COMMENT: See the Worldview & Science Libraries for clues as to why this must be so. Nothing in the secular or pagan worldviews can account for Western success. Only the God of the Bible created a cosmos which was both good and orderly, and in which therefore reason could be used to study that world. No other cosmology says that. None. The typical Christian opposing of reason to revelation is not in any sense Biblical. It was a concession to the irrational attempt to see Biblical worldview in Hellenic terms. The two worldviews are incommensurate. The Biblical worldview has its own intellectual integrity.]
Faith in humanity's reasoning capacity, in turn, stimulated scientific theory-making, democratic theory and individual freedoms. Capitalism applied this to economics, producing an explosion of wealth.
Over the past century, Stark writes, intellectuals have claimed the opposite, saying the West surged ahead by overcoming Christianity with its supposed barriers to progress, especially in science.
"Nonsense. The success of the West, including the rise of science, rested entirely on religious foundations, and the people who brought it about were devout Christians," Stark says.
He asserts that "real science arose only once: in Europe." Only in Europe did alchemy develop into chemistry and astrology into astronomy, with thinkers moving beyond mere technology into true research.
Stark rejects the century-old scenario of Max Weber that Protestantism undergirded capitalism. Stark maintains that the main elements were invented by Catholic monks and lay Italians, centuries before the Reformation.
He also thinks it's high time to eradicate "an incredible lie that long disfigured our knowledge of history": the claim that between the fall of ancient Rome and the secular Renaissance and Enlightenment, Europe suffered through so-called Dark Ages of "ignorance, superstition and misery."
That's a "hoax," he says, that was invented by 18th-century intellectuals who hated religion and especially Roman Catholicism. In reality, he says, the centuries before Protestantism and modern secularism saw huge progress in technology, education and human betterment.
Stark's praise for Christian accomplishments includes the controversial claim that non-Christian religions help explain why the West transcended other lands. "Christianity was oriented to the future while the other major religions asserted the superiority of the past," he contends.
In most religions, he explains, the material universe is regarded as eternal, without beginning or purpose and without a creator, and the cosmos is "a supreme mystery, inconsistent, unpredictable and arbitrary... The path to wisdom is through meditation and mystical insights" that do not produce empirical knowledge.
-- Associated Press
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